The U.S. has the most powerful military in the history of the world, but it should not be utilized as a political tool or for retribution. The government and its leaders must do their best to make the right decisions, to be truthful with the American people, and to provide all the necessary support needed to fulfill the military's mission. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case.
There are strong arguments making the case for the persistence (and indeed the intensification) of U.S. airstrikes against ISIS targets. But equally there are strong arguments, less frequently heard perhaps, for why the United States should not continue, and should certainly not intensify, those airstrikes.
For anyone who served on the ground in Iraq there is something horrifying about the idea of the ideologically blind, strategically ignorant "thinkers" -- Paul Wolfowitz chief among them -- who sent us into a misguided war without a plan to win the peace coming back into office. And yet, Jeb wants to get the gang back together.
This week we went back to the future as President Obama authorized air strikes in Iraq, along with humanitarian airdrops of food and water to thousands of Yazidis besieged by Islamic State fighters. The White House emphasized the military action's limited scope. "I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," said the President. But, of course, even though the U.S. formally withdrew our forces from Iraq in 2011, this is not another war; it's a continuation of the Iraq War, which should be renamed The War of Unintended Consequences. Though this week's air strikes, however warranted, should serve as a sobering rebuke to the kind of thinking that led us into Iraq in the first place, the same voices that headed that ill-conceived charge are still front and center -- like Paul Wolfowitz, who on Tuesday claimed that America had "won" the war in Iraq "in 2009." I guess someone forgot to tell Iraq.
In 2005, while Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol were sitting at desks in Washington, my unit was fighting their war in Iraq. They were playing armchair general. We were kicking in doors, getting shot at and driving on IED-planted roads in unarmored vehicles designed for amphibious assaults.
Neocons and elite media personalities who got everything wrong on Iraq now darken my TV screen telling me to ignore the invasion, the eight-year occupation, the lies about weapons of mass destruction, "mushroom clouds" becoming "smoking guns," the torture at Abu Ghraib prison and everything else, and pretend the war started with General David Petraeus's miraculous "surge" where everything was wonderful in Iraq until the "dove" Obama pulled the plug. It's a nice narrative if your goal is partisan advantage, but like so much else we've heard from policy elites regarding Iraq, it has nothing to do with reality.